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Mitchell vs. Gobert | 2022 NBA All-Star Game Turns Friends Into Foes

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

Teammates for the past five years, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert will have to travel nearly 2,000 miles to finally be apart. 

Following the selection of the NBA All-Star rosters on Thursday night, Mitchell was selected by LeBron James with the 10th pick of the reserves. Gobert was chosen by Kevin Durant with the second-to-last pick, with Durant's former teammate James Harden being taken last. 

The game is set for Sunday, Feb. 20, with tipoff at 6 p.m. MST.

Last season was a memorable all-star experience for Mitchell, Gobert, and teammate Mike Conley. All three were selected to Team LeBron and helped the Western Conference get the 170-150 victory. 

Despite whatever happens in Cleveland, Mitchell and Gobert will be back in Salt Lake City for a massive showdown on Friday, Feb. 25, when Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks come to town. 

For the third time in his career, Mitchell has been chosen to the all-star game — not a bad stat considering it's just his fifth season in the league. Mitchell's third all-star appearance is tied with Boston's Jayson Tatum for the most from the 2017 draft class, making Mitchell's selection at No. 13 look like an absolute steal.

In what's shaping up to be one of the best seasons of his career, Mitchell leads Utah in scoring with 25.4 points per game, adding 5.3 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.6 steals. He's shooting 45.4% from the field and 34.6% from beyond the arc, showcasing his ability to score from every level. 

He's one of three players in the league to average 25 points, 4.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game, along with Steph Curry and LeBron James.

Despite being on the edge of greatness in the league, Mitchell is still chasing that elusive All-NBA nod. He still plays with a chip on his shoulder, constantly grinding before and after practice, whether on the court, in the gym, or watching film.

"I'm still working on little things," Mitchell said. "I want to be more efficient. The efficiency is important. It's all about just trying to continue to get better and continuing to work hard."

Despite his detractors, Gobert's reputation and skillset extend further than the words reigned down upon him from his supporters.

As arguably the best defensive player in the game, Gobert has continued to dominate on that end of the court as he seeks a record-tying fourth defensive player of the year award. While his blocks per game are down slightly from his career-high, his overall player efficiency rating is at an all-time high of 25.67, ranked seventh in the league.

"When I'm out there, I'm not guarding one guy. I'm guarding the whole team," Gobert said. "It's hard to understand for some guys. … They get used to just being able to impact one guy at a time. I'm trying to guard a whole team."

While knowing what he brings to the team defensively, Gobert's offensive evolution this season has been sensational.

He's added an array of skills on the offensive side of the ball. From a eurostep to a mini jumper and the ability to play under control and find the open man, Gobert has proven that he's somebody defenses need to account for on that end of the court.

He's second in the NBA with 35 double-doubles on the year but has the least games played of anybody in the top-10. He's averaging 16.0 points and a league-leading 15.1 rebounds per game. He's shooting 70.7% from the floor and 69.0% from the free throw line, which are career-highs.

"He did it in the preseason, he did it in training camp, and now I think that's the level we're going to see out of him the rest of the year," Donovan Mitchell said of his teammate.